Teenage Japanese star Rika Kihira won the Grand Prix Final women's title Saturday.
The 16-year-old had a combined score of 233.12, despite stumbling on a jump in her free skate. The score topped her career best of 224.31 set last month in Japan in her NHK Trophy victory.
"My failures from the past seasons really motivated me to do well," Kihira said through a translator. "I promised myself that I would remember them and never repeat those mistakes again."
Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia, also 16, was second at 226.53 points.
"The first senior season is easier than the second one," Zagitova said through a translator. "Because when you go out the first time, there are no expectations, no one expects anything and you can just got and skate."
Japanese figure skating star Rika Kihira secured victory at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Canada as Russian sensation Alina Zagitova was forced to settle for second and compatriot Elizaveta Tuktamysheva claimed third.
Having topped the short program ahead of Zagitova with a world-record score, 16-year-old Kihira also got the better of the Russian in Saturday’s free program.
Kihira scored 150.61 points to Zagitova's 148.60, with Tuktamysheva on 144.67.
The result earned Kihira a total of 233.12 points for the two programs, with clear daylight ahead of Zagitova on 226.53 and Tuktamysheva further back on 215.32 in Vancouver.
While stamping her name as Japan's next women's figure skating star, Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics hopeful Rika Kihira proved that success can come with a smile.
In fact, to her, it is all about smiles, and the 16-year-old up-and-comer hopes she can keep the winner's grin as her remarkable first half of the season on the senior ranks closes with the Dec. 20-24 national championships in Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture.
Kihira managed to secure the happy ending she wanted with victory at the recent Grand Prix Final -- her fourth title in as many events on the international circuit -- where she executed six triple jumps in Saturday's free program to earn a combined score of 233.12.
"I attained my goal of leaving the competition with a smile," she told reporters on Sunday. "I'm exhausted and can't think clearly right now, but I'm happy with the first-place result," she said.
And now, with little time to savor her historic victory which made her the first Japanese since Mao Asada in 2005 to be crowned Grand Prix Final champion in her senior debut season, Kihira says she would like to wrap up the year with another big win.
"It's an important year-end event. I want to put on my best personal performance and come out on top with a smile," she said of the upcoming nationals.
The Vice-President of the International Skating Union (ISU), Alexander Lakernik, is confident that Russian Alina Zagitova will be able to compete with Japanese Rika Kihira. The 16-year-old Kihira won with a score of 233.12 points. The 2018 Olympic champion Zagitova took second place (226.53). In the short program Kihira scored 82.51 points, beating the world record previously owned by Zagitova (80.78).
"Kihira is an athlete who has a triple axel. This is one of the most difficult jumps today, and if she manages to perform it, she is a candidate for the highest places. Without this axel, everything looks different. But you can compete with her" - Lakernik said.
For Kihira, the current season is first on the adult level, she made it to the Grand Prix Finals with victories in Japan and France. The Japanese figure skater is the first girl in the history of figure skating, who managed to perform a cascade of triple axel and triple toe loop at competitions.
Zagitova, for the first time this season and for the second time in her adult career, was not able to take first place in the competition in which she took part, she had previously won the Grand Prix in Finland and in Moscow. Last season, Zagitova, in addition to winning the Olympics in Pyeongchang, won the Grand Prix Final and European Championship.